Warning. If you're still using credit cards and debit cards with a black magnetic strip on the back, stop using them now.
Your card issuer was supposed to have replaced them with EMV cards by last October. (See photo above.) If they haven't, call your card issuer right now and demand one. A scary crime ring is targeting those old cards.
All your financial data on an old card's magnetic strip is easily stolen by hackers. Which is exactly why the hacker group Bears Inc. is ramping up hacks at retailers' point-of-sale payment systems. The hackers are targeting those vulnerable cards and POS systems when you make a payment.
Worse, the Bears Inc. malware Treasurehunt isn't well known to retailers or their cybersecurity teams. The Bears Inc. hackers are actively using it to steal your credit card information.
Treasurehunt records your financial information and sends it to their computer server. The Bears Inc. hackers have a website where they access your financial information.
The old cards that have magnetic strips store your financial details there. When hackers steal that information, they can use it to make purchases over and over. The Bears Inc. hackers are selling your financial information to other criminals.
The Bears Inc. hackers have been using the Treasurehunt malware since 2014, according to cybersecurity experts. They regularly update it to avoid detection.
The relative ease of these crimes is precisely why card issuers around the world have been phasing out magnetic strips. They're replacing them with EMV computer chips.
Those chips don't store your personal information. Instead, they create a unique transaction code each time you make a purchase. Even if a hacker stole that code, they couldn't use it.
The Bears Inc. hackers are scrambling to infect as many POS systems with malware before old credit cards and card readers disappear. The deadline to replace those cards and readers was October 1, but that was a self-imposed credit card industry deadline. Many card issuers and retailers haven't met that deadline.
One serious downside to secure EMV credit cards is ID theft. Criminals are having a tougher time stealing information directly from your payment cards, so they're stealing your identity. In fact, new account ID theft is up 113%. Read about it here.